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The 3 Types of Diets

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The field of nutrition has all kinds of experts and all kinds of approaches, each claiming that their diet plan is the best. But what happens when the diet gurus contradict each other? How can we know who’s right? Well, as it turns out, every diet has a specific impact, and the trick is knowing what you want your nutritional approach to do for you.

In this illuminating new video from IPEtv, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explains the 3 basic types of diets, each with its own benefits. Whether you’re using food to support your healing, planning everyday meals for your family, or looking for ways to expand your dietary horizons, tune in and learn which type of diet is best for you.

Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Have you ever wondered why so many nutrition experts are constantly contradicting each other about what we should and shouldn’t eat? Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a big picture view that would empower us to make the right choices for us as individuals?

Well, I’d love to share with you some nutritional insights that can have a life changing impact on the way we understand diet and nutrition. It’s called The 3 Levels of Diet. This is a powerful set of distinctions drawn from the field of Mind Body Nutrition that can forever change the way you navigate the food universe.

It’s a simple classification system that helps put different nutritional approaches into a clear context. The 3 levels are: therapeutic, maintenance, and experimental. By understanding which category a diet plan falls into, we can gain important insights into how and when to use a particular nutritional approach, what we can reasonably expect from it, and how to manage the confusion and disappointment that can arise when a diet fails to meet our expectations.

Let’s define the 3 levels:

A Therapeutic Diet

This is a way of eating that’s designed to treat or heal a disease or medical symptom. A few examples of this are diets to lower cholesterol or blood-pressure levels, diets to work with diabetes, and diets for people with specific food allergies. Therapeutic diets can alleviate symptoms and sometimes even bring dramatic healing, and are widely used in both traditional and alternative healing sciences.

The thing to remember is that often, a diet provides therapeutic benefits for a specific period of time and loses its effectiveness when the natural limits of its healing powers are reached. People often become confused because they’ve seen the healing powers of the diet, yet witness its loss of effectiveness. However, like any medicine, a therapeutic diet is a specific medical intervention. We don’t keep taking painkillers after the headache has gone away. Once a therapeutic diet has done its work, we’d be wise to switch to a maintenance diet.

A Maintenance Diet

This kind is the staple fare used in everyday life, the business-as-usual diet. On this level of diet, foods are chosen for their ability to nourish us for long stretches of time, and without harmful effects. A maintenance diet might change over time as our body, lifestyle, or beliefs change. Sometimes we might discover that a food that was once a staple for us might now be problematic, so it’s wise to check in with body wisdom to make sure the foods we’ve been maintaining ourselves on continue to make metabolic sense.

An Experimental Diet

This uses food as an evolutionary tool, a way to play with the possibilities of what a particular diet can do for the body. On an experimental diet, we are the scientists of our own physiology, asking questions such as, “What would happen if I ate these particular foods? How would it affect my body, health, energy levels, work output and ability to think?” Any foods that have unproven effects or that we’ve never used before present an opportunity to explore the unknown, to bring an exciting sense of newness and discovery to our diet. Whether we’re trying different supplements or considering going vegan, the experimental approach helps to inoculate us against the viral belief that there is one right way for everyone to eat.

Try taking notice of how certain diets or nutritional strategies fall into one of these three categories. Then observe your own diet. Which of the 3 levels would it be categorized under? And consider that life itself is one long beautiful experiment in nourishment and nutrition. Why not celebrate it?

In the comments below, please let us know your thoughts. We love hearing from you and we read and respond to every comment!

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